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The Lindbergh Foundation is deeply saddened by the passing of Astronaut Sally Ride on July 23, 2012.  In 1983, Sally Ride established her place in history by becoming the first American woman to blast off our planet and into space.  Having done that, she became a role model for many aspiring young people, particularly young women. Her enduring legacy on the planet has been set, however, by her work, leadership and inspiration as one of the strongest advocates for science, technology, engineering and math.  We have lost an incredible person who will be missed, but her accomplishments and life will continue to serve to motivate many.

It was indeed an honor to recognize Dr. Ride with the Foundation’s first Anne Morrow Lindbergh Award in 2003 for her outstanding achievement, spirit of initiative, and great dedication toward making positive contributions to our world.  


The Anne Morrow Lindbergh Award was created in honor of an extraordinary woman, who was a pioneer, pilot, parent, adventurer and author.  It was presented for the first time to Dr. Sally Ride, an equally extraordinary woman, pioneer, adventurer, and role model. Upon bestowing the Award, Reeve Lindbergh said, “We honor Dr. Ride not only for her outstanding achievements in the past, but also, and perhaps even more significantly, for her tremendously positive ongoing contributions to the future, for our children and for our world.”

Dr. Sally Ride was one of our nation's most beloved educators, scientists, as well as the first American woman to enter outer space.  She will be deeply missed.  


Hero Worship - By Thomas B. Haines

Posted by: Kelley Welf

Tagged in: Lovell , Lindbergh , Hero , Haines , Cernan , Astronaut , Armstrong , AOPA , Anniversary , aerospace

Kelley Welf

AOPA Pilot Magazine

July 2012 Volume 55 / Number 7


Hero worship

By Thomas B. Haines

We swapped Bonanza-owner stories in the back seat of the Lincoln Town Car, just as any two pilots might when they meet on a ramp somewhere. But I was pinching myself as Apollo 11 astronaut Neil Armstrong described his decision to move from a Bonanza to a Cessna 310, which he only recently sold and is now planning his next airplane purchase. I was happy to have him lead the conversation as I sat nearly speechless in awe of one of my childhood idols. I credit Armstrong and other Apollo astronauts with fostering my interest in aerospace that ultimately led me to a local airport at age 15 for an introductory flight. Weeks later I was in ground school and the following summer I soloed at age 16, later earning my private pilot certificate at age 17.

I remember sitting cross-legged in my pajamas as an 8-year-old on the steamy July 1969 night staring at our black-and-white TV as Armstrong stepped out of the Eagle lunar lander and onto the moon’s surface. My family and 600 million other people around the world watched that moment, one that would propel Armstrong onto the world stage in a way not seen since Charles Lindbergh made the first solo, nonstop crossing of the Atlantic 42 years earlier.

In fact, it was Lindbergh who caused our paths to cross on May 18, 2012, as we motored up Madison Avenue in New York City. Armstrong and I were both there to attend a dinner celebrating the thirty-fifth anniversary of the founding of the Charles A. and Anne Morrow Lindbergh Foundation.

Minutes earlier, I had exited a hotel on Park Avenue, planning to walk the nine blocks to the famed Explorers Club to attend the dinner. Instead I ran into John Petersen, a well-known futurist and Lindbergh board member. Petersen was tasked with escorting Armstrong and two of the other speakers, astronauts Gene Cernan and Jim Lovell, to the dinner. Two Town Cars were arranged for the short trip. Petersen asked if I would accompany Armstrong while he rode with the other two. Stunned, I almost turned him down. After all, what would I say in awe of the notoriously shy Armstrong?

But about then, the three space pioneers appeared in the doorway. We stood on the sidewalk gabbing about aviation and discovering, as pilots do everywhere, how many people we all know in common. All three astronauts, despite all being some 80 years old (Cernan is the youngest at 78), are still active GA pilots and AOPA members. Lovell loves the AOPA FlyQ Flight Planner, as it turns out. Both he and Cernan fly Cessna 421s.

As the door in the Lincoln closed, my fear of “what to say” returned for a moment. But I then brought out the question that I’ve found works as a conversation starter with any pilot. “So, what are you flying these days?”
One of Armstrong’s first GA airplanes was a Bonanza. Discovering our common thread, he opened up about his flying, relating what a joy it still is for him to fly his own airplane—left unsaid: Even after flying to the moon!

All too quickly, the driver pulled up to the Explorers Club and I hustled out to attempt to fend off paparazzi intent on snapping photos of the media-wary astronaut. Armstrong, however, had other ideas, and got right in the photographer’s face, telling him to be more respectful, and then blew by him into the club. He may be 81, but you wouldn’t know it to see him in action.

Later I had the chance to do a video interview with Cernan and Lovell, who shared their passion for GA flying and opined about the current U.S. manned space flight policy. Wallflowers, they are not! You can watch the video on AOPA Live.

My thanks to the Lindbergh Foundation for the chance to attend the dinner and meet three of my heroes. Learn more about the foundation at

E-mail the author at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it ; follow on Twitter: tomhaines29.

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